Olympics chief admits ‘sleepless nights’ over troubled Tokyo Games

On Tuesday, Olympic head Thomas Bach expressed “doubts” and “sleepless nights” about the postponed Tokyo Games, as the opening ceremony approaches following a year of delay and coronavirus mayhem that has left them highly unpopular among the Japanese public.

Bach, speaking at a gathering of the International Olympic Committee in Tokyo, said the extraordinary decision to postpone the Games had proven more difficult than he had anticipated.

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The build-up to Friday’s opening ceremony has been particularly tumultuous, with Tokyo still under martial law and public sentiment overwhelmingly opposed to the Games, which will be staged mostly without spectators.

“We’ve had to make a lot of judgments in the last 15 months on an extremely shaky foundation. Every day, we had doubts. We deliberated and spoke about it. There were evenings when I couldn’t sleep “Bach said.

“This bothered us, and it bothered me. But, in order to reach at today’s point, we had to inspire confidence and demonstrate a path out of the crisis “Added he.

During his visit to Japan, Bach drew sporadic protests, with a recent poll in the Asahi Shimbun newspaper revealing that 55 percent of respondents oppose holding the Games this summer.

Four people have tested positive at the Olympic Village, raising concerns that the inflow of tens of thousands of athletes, officials, and media would contribute to an increase in cases in Japan.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach gestures as he takes part in a news conference following an executive board meeting ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on July 17, 2021 in Tokyo. 

A teen gymnast from the United States who was staying outside the Village was also one of the 71 Games-related cases documented so far.

The Olympics, which are being held in a biosecure “bubble” with daily testing, have been vehemently defended by Olympic and Japanese officials. Vaccination has been administered to 80% of the competitors competing in the Games.

“At long last, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Bach remarked, adding, “Cancellation was never an option for us.” We did it for the athletes… the IOC never abandons the athletes.”

Bach was speaking at an unusual IOC session, in which delegates wearing masks sat at individual workstations, socially separated, and the podium microphone was cleansed after each statement.

It reflected an Olympics that will be held primarily in empty venues with recorded crowd noises, beginning with the opening ceremony at the 68,000-seat Olympic Stadium.

Keigo ‘Cornelius’ Oyamada, who departed on Monday after outrage over previous interviews in which he detailed harassing disabled schoolmates, will not perform during the ceremony.

In a statement, he stated, “I have become acutely conscious that accepting the offer of my musical participation in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics lacked respect to many individuals.”

Toyota, the world’s largest carmaker, has cancelled plans to conduct an Olympic-linked brand campaign in Japan, citing a lack of “understanding” from the general public, according to a senior official.

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